At least 10,250 Ghanaians, predominantly women, are suffering from mental distress and depression, the Chief Psychiatrist of the Ghana Health Service, has said.
The number represents 41 per cent of the population.
According to Dr Akwasi Osei, who is also the Chief Psychiatrist in charge of the Accra Psychiatric Hospital, mental health had become a silent national crisis owing to very poor quality mental health care.
A health survey in 2010 established that the mental health situation in the country results in, at least, the loss of seven per cent of the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP) yearly.
He was addressing a workshop on the Mental Health Law (Act 846), in Accra yesterday. He said mental distress and mental depression needed prompt attention.
The workshop was organised by Basic Needs Ghana (BNG), a non- governmental organisation (NG)O), to build the capacity of municipal, metropolitan and district assemblies (MMDAs) to play their roles as outlined by the Law.
The workshop was funded by Star- Ghana in collaboration with UK and US Aid.
Dr Osei said the current mental health problem required a deliberate multi-sectorial national effort to address.
Why poor mental health care
Dr Osei attributed the poor quality mental health care in the country to a number of reasons including the over-centralised nature of mental healthcare facilities.
The three major mental hospitals-Accra Psychiatric Hospital, Pantang Psychiatric Hospital, Ankaful Psychiatric Hospital – are all located in the south.
As a result, “only two out of a hundred people requiring mental healthcare are receiving it,” he added.
Besides, he said, there are only 12 psychiatric doctors nationwide, while the sector receives limited medication, which can only last six months, from the Ministry of Health in two years.
Dr Osei said notwithstanding the numerous challenges facing the sector, the effective implementation of the Mental Health Law, passed in 2012, would help address the problems.
The law decentralised mental health care.
In his opening address, the Executive Director of BNG, Mr Badimark Peter Yaro, said the BNG was organising a series of dissemination exercises for stakeholders on the Mental Health Law, with the objective of helping them understand and identify their respective roles in its implementation.
Source: Graphic Online